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You Must Remember This


By Dan Gordon '85

Published Jul 1, 2006 12:00 AM

Forget This Not: Dr. Small's Five Tips for Memory Mastery

1. Look, Snap, Connect. The person you think of as having a photographic memory simply uses good techniques. When learning potentially forgettable information such as someone’s name, stay focused ("look"), make a mental picture of a visual image related to the information ("snap"), and link the image with the information ("connect"). For example, picture the woman you just met named Shirley as having deep dimples, like Shirley Temple.

2. Group Think. When there are large groups of items to memorize, find common characteristics that enable you to create memory clusters. Instead of trying to remember the six items you have to get at the market, for example, keep in mind that three of them are cereals and three are dairy products.

3. There Are Places You Remember. Constantly forgetting where you put your car keys? Have a spot where you automatically put them each day. Worried that you’ll forget to take home the leftover food that’s in the refrigerator at work? Put your car keys in the refrigerator with it — not only will you be unable to leave without the food, but placing your keys in such an unusual place will not easily escape your mind.

4. One Task at a Time. Multitasking breeds forgetfulness. If you're driving to work trying to recall whether you turned off the sprinklers, it’s because your mind was elsewhere when you were engaged in the task.

5. Keep Lists. Brains are like computers — there is only so much information they can store. "To do" lists and other written and computerized information filing systems help to rid the brain of clutter, freeing up space that can be used to remember other things.

Visit or to find more memory tricks, purchase Small’s memory books and audio aids, link to other memory Web sites or learn about the UCLA Center on Aging programs.